The NHS’ current plan for a potential vaccine rollout could see England’s adult population start being vaccinated against coronavirus from January, with the whole population vaccinated by April, according to reports.
Leaked documents seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) showed “everyone who wants to” will be vaccinated by early April under the government’s draft Covid-19 vaccine deployment programme.
NHS England’s draft programme hinges on plans to significantly boost capacity across GP-run facilities, create “large scale mass vaccination sites”, and roll out “roving models” for those unable to travel.
The plan assumes there will be 100 per cent take-up in residential settings like care homes and prisons and 75 per cent take-up within wider society.
The document, dated 13 November and shared among senior NHS regional leaders yesterday, sets out plans to administer 4.5m doses of a potential Covid vaccine each week between early January and mid-March.
That would mean 88.5m doses delivered across England — enough to vaccinate around 44.3m people — by the end of April.
Under the best case scenario, vaccine rollout will start with care home residents, social care workers and healthcare workers at the beginning of December.
Documents shown to the HSJ revealed there is uncertainty about whether the government will decide if unpaid carers are included in the care worker cohort.
An NHS spokesperson said: “These earlier draft slides are no longer up to date relative to the latest information from companies on likely supply schedules, and as there is of course as yet no authorised vaccine in the world the NHS is having to plan for many different scenarios.”
It comes after major drugs companies last week made breakthrough announcements that their experimental Covid vaccines proved overwhelmingly successful in late-stage trials.
Pfizer today filed for emergency authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration to begin vaccine rollout in America from mid-December.
It comes as the UK’s top health officials last week announced the priority list for vaccination against coronavirus.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said the first phase of vaccine rollout would “prioritise the most vulnerable individuals in society, specifically people who are most likely to die from severe Covid-19 infection”.
Interim current recommendations place care home residents and care home workers at the top of the priority list, followed by older age groups from 80-plus-year-olds, going down to 60-plus-year-olds, Professor Lim said.
“Then adults with underlying health conditions, then 50-plus-year-olds, going down the age bands.”
Professor Lim added: “If phase one is completed then we will have protected hopefully over 99 per cent of those individuals who are at risk of dying from Covid-19.
“We have not decided yet on who else should be vaccinated beyond phase one. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t be vaccinated, but simply that we haven’t decided yet on prioritisation”.